Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Chemo went fine today. Only one needle stick in the lab, but two in the infusion room. The first stick occluded immediately and when they took out the needle, it was a gusher. My nurse dryly says, "Mary, you don't want to look at this." The second vein they found on my outside forearm worked.

I had to share with you a very undeserved and special gift I received last night. Our long-time good friends Angie and Dennis B. (Angie was Sam's 3rd grade teacher and Dennis is a PT and colleague of Dick's) stopped by with their kids last night. I assumed it was just for a visit. Dennis sat down with an envelope in his hand. He told me that after his sister Rita died in 2005 (I remember asking Angie occasionally about Rita's condition over the course of her disease), his family and friends started a "Run For Rita" race every fall up in Sioux Falls. The proceeds from the participants' entry fees and corporate sponsors have been given every year to two or three individuals fighting cancer to offset medical and other costs.

Unbeknownst to me, I was chosen as one of the 2010 recipients. Dennis handed me the envelope "in honor of his amazing sister." I glanced inside and was reduced to tears. All I could see was a sea of hundred dollar bills.

How do you thank people for a gift like this? It feels like God's grace....undeserved, elaborate and free, given in love. So too this gift.

Rita's brother Tim, on the Run For Rita race website, says of his sister, "To make an analogy of how Rita lived and how those around her felt I think of a big motorboat. Most of us live life so that we are barely a ripple in a smooth lake. Rita was a big boat on the lake of life with her waves of love just washing over us continuously."

Rita Spyskma

I don't think of myself as a big boat, but to honor Rita's legacy, I will do my best to emulate her fighting spirit and her positive, caring attitude. And I know without a doubt that unless I can't stand up on my own two feet this coming fall, I will be participating in the Run For Rita, and pledging money to her foundation, paying it forward to other cancer journeyers.

To Dennis, the entire Bickett family and the Spyskma family, my gratitude is deep and humbling. The money will help so much with medical expenses. We promise to be good stewards of your generosity.

To add to the gift, after Dennis and Angie left last night (after Dick had sneaked our memory card out of our camera and gave it to them), Angie went to get prints made at Walmart and spent almost the entire night making me an incredible, beautiful Christmas scrapbook, delivered this morning by surprise once again, before I left for chemo. It is such an extravagant gift of your precious vacation time, Ang. I absolutely love it. For the myriad ways you have cared for me in the past 5 months, I have no words. Just know that you have painted splashes on joy on my path and are truly one of the treasures I have found in the darkness.

To read more about Rita and the Run For Rita, go to http://www.run4rita.org/. If you can join the race next fall, please do so!!

Thank you again for lifting me in prayer to Our Father, who is sovereign over all things and holds us all securely in His arms. He hears every prayer.


Cole said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a blessing! I am writing this comment with tear stained cheeks but a broad smile of joy draped across my face.

They knew what a good steward you would be, and I think continuing to live exactly as you are is how you thank them. Such a beautiful testimony of God's love in your life.

I pray for you upcoming days of 'chemo brain' and that the fog may clear quickly so you can still enjoy some time with your sweet son on his break, I know that time is precious.

Anonymous said...

Please note the link in the letter did not work correctly, hopefully it will here, www.run4rita.org please feel free to visit any time :)

And thank you Mary for such a lovely note:

Mark from www.run4rita.org

Mary said...

Mark, I changed the website in my posting. Hopefully that will work. Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention!!

Anonymous said...

Mary, thinking of you today and always

Anonymous said...

I am in tears. What an amazing gift from some very special people. I can't get over the extent to which you are surrounded by SO MANY caring, generous, loving individuals-- a testament to the people you, Dick and Sam are.
I am so thankful for this gift for you guys.
Love you past the moon, and thinking of you as always.